How Anxiety Can Cause Weight Loss or Weight Gain


How Anxiety Can Cause Weight Loss or Weight Gain


Anxiety can cause both weight loss and weight gain, depending on various factors. Here’s how:


  1. Appetite changes: Anxiety can trigger changes in appetite, leading to either overeating or undereating. Some people may find comfort in food and turn to it as a way to cope with anxiety, leading to weight gain. Others may experience a decreased appetite and eat less than their body needs, resulting in weight loss.

  2. Hormonal changes: Anxiety can trigger the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, which can impact the body’s metabolism and cause weight changes. Cortisol can increase appetite and cause the body to store fat around the belly area, leading to weight gain. On the other hand, it can also increase metabolism and lead to weight loss.

  3. Medication side effects: Some medications used to treat anxiety can cause weight gain or weight loss as a side effect, depending on the medication and the individual’s response to it.

  4. Physical activity: Anxiety can affect physical activity levels. Some people may find it challenging to exercise due to anxiety, leading to weight gain. Others may experience increased physical activity levels due to restlessness, leading to weight loss.

  5. Sleep patterns: Anxiety can disrupt sleep patterns, which can impact metabolism and appetite, leading to weight changes.


            Here are the causes of anxiety weight loss mentioned in detail. Also know about the weight loss


How can anxiety cause weight loss?

Reduced appetite: Most of us have experienced that whenever we are upset or anxious, we barely tend to eat. The number of skipped meals increases and there is no interest in the normal favorites that you would otherwise savor. When you do get around to eating, you feel fuller faster. Research has shown that the body produces a particular hormone when you are stressed out which interferes with your desire to eat. This coupled with a faster metabolism causes weight loss. 


Anti-anxiety medication: If you are on medications that help you manage your anxiety, they could be causing your weight loss too. This side effect is seen after prolonged consumption of these medications. 


Faster metabolism: There have not been substantial human studies but whatever experiments were conducted, showed that the metabolic rate of the body increases when it is under stress. It means the muscles are tenser and your body does not relax and the functioning of the body is affected. 


Gastrointestinal problems: When your body is not getting enough serotonin, it affects the health of your gut. You may have bowel issues and end up dehydrated too. 


Over-exercising: A lot of people turn to expel their nervous energy in the form of physical activity. Even if they are not going to the gym, there are behavioral changes that cause the body to burn more calories. For example, some people cannot sit calmly in one place and need to keep pacing in order to calm themselves down.


Avoidance of food or situations: Some people with anxiety may avoid certain foods or social situations, which can result in a restricted diet and weight loss.


How can anxiety cause weight gain?


Sleeplessness: Anxiety often disrupts sleep schedules and sleepless nights. There was an extensive study conducted that showed that those who slept for 5 and a half hours instead of 8 and a half lost lean mass rather than fat. It also showed that due to anxiety those staying up felt puckish and consumed unwanted and untimely calories. Even if there is a substantial increase in the duration of sleep, the quality remains low and it adds to the fatigue. Both these factors contribute to resistance to weight loss and more cravings for unhealthy foods. 


Cortisol increase: Although the metabolism gets faster and there is a reduction in appetite, cortisol levels spike when the body experiences extreme stress. Higher levels of cortisol make it more difficult to lose weight. Cortisol is a hormone triggered by stress that releases more sugar in the body. It can cause your appetite to go up and the craving for sugar increases substantially. 


Decreased attention to health and healthy foods:

Anxiety causes cravings that you would otherwise have lesser times. There is an increase in cravings for sugar, fried foods, quick and easy-to-make and eat foods and things that add up to empty calories. It is easier to lose track of how hungry you actually are and keep munching because you are feeling uneasy. 


Harder to motivate yourself:

Even when you do realize that you are gaining weight and you want to go to the gym, there is a chance you won’t find the willpower to do so. The ones with anxiety also often overthink and avoid social interactions and situations as much as possible. At such times it is hard to get up and even go for a run.



Many people turn to food as a way to cope with anxiety. They may find comfort in eating high-calorie, high-fat foods or simply eat more than their bodies need to feel full. Over time, this can lead to weight gain.


Lack of physical activity: Anxiety can make it difficult to find the motivation to exercise or engage in physical activity, leading to a sedentary lifestyle that can contribute to weight gain.


It’s important to note that not everyone with anxiety will experience weight gain, and weight gain alone is not a definitive sign of anxiety. However, if you are experiencing anxiety and notice changes in your weight or eating habits, it may be worth discussing with a healthcare provider to explore strategies for managing anxiety and maintaining a healthy weight.


How to manage your anxiety and weight fluctuation?

When you are trying to manage your weight, it is important to treat the root of the problem. There are many people who look towards reducing food intake or over-exercising. The root cause of this issue is anxiety. The best way to manage your weight and ensure you have a healthy relationship with weight loss is to manage your anxiety. Anxiety weight loss can be managed by following the below tips. 

  1. Eat regularly: – Yes, that’s right. When you are spending your days pacing, the first sign is you start skipping meals. The best thing is to set an alarm for yourself or ask your friends or family to remind you to eat. Ensure you create a routine for yourself where you eat and do not compromise on the quality of food. 

  2. Maintain a diary: – This is a suggestion given by most experts. Maintain a diary and see the power of writing your thoughts down. This helps you calm down and assess your day logically. It is recommended you do this exercise before going to bed so that you can rest peacefully at night. 

  3. Practice stress management techniques: Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and stress levels.

  4. Mediation: is a personal thing and it can have the desired effect when you don’t put pressure on it to work. Meditation also includes some breathing exercises that you could do. You don’t have to force thoughts out of your mind when you are meditating. All you need to do is focus on your breath, allow any thought that comes to you to pass, and refocus yourself. 

  5. Small exercise goals : It can be difficult to start hitting the gym suddenly. You can set smaller goals for yourself. For example, you can start by walking to the nearby stores instead of relying on your vehicle. Once you are confident enough to do that, include a walk in your daily routine and then you can head to the gym when you are comfortable. 

  6. Limit caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can increase anxiety and disrupt sleep patterns, which can contribute to weight gain.

  7. Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, as lack of sleep can increase stress and anxiety levels and disrupt metabolism.

  8. Consult a doctor: If you feel you are unable to handle the effects of anxiety and have trouble managing it, it is advisable to consult the doctor. If you are already going to the doctor, then be transparent about the hardships you are facing as your doctor may change your medication.

Remember, everyone’s experience with anxiety and weight fluctuation is unique, so it may take some trial and error to find the strategies that work best for you. Be patient with yourself and seek support as needed.


No matter if you are struggling with weight gain or weight loss due to anxiety, the solution for both is to find mental peace in a way that doesn’t harm you. You can try going to spa retreats or on vacations closer to nature to take a break, rejuvenate, and start working on yourself again. 


 conclusion: anxiety can cause weight loss or weight gain through various factors, including changes in appetite, hormonal changes, medication side effects, physical activity levels, and sleep patterns. Anxiety can lead to overeating or undereating, impact metabolism and appetite, and affect physical activity levels and sleep patterns. Weight changes alone may not be a definitive sign of anxiety, but if you’re experiencing anxiety and notice significant weight changes, it’s essential to discuss it with your healthcare provider to explore potential strategies for managing anxiety and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s important to be patient with yourself and seek professional help if anxiety and weight changes are impacting your quality of life.


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